By Chinwe of Hair and Health
Winter can easily translate into hair breakage and setbacks if you live in a region that is “fortunate” to experience brutally cold weather. However, your hair can fair just fine during this season if you are adequately prepared. Here are just some of many ways to avoid damage to your hair this coming winter:
1. Keep your ends tucked away
Whether your hair is loose (e.g., twist-out) or in twists (or braids), buns and tucked updos are great staple styles during this time of year. They keep your ends hidden from the cold and dry air, thus helping to reduce moisture loss. They also keep your hair up and away from your winter scarves, coats, and sweaters, thus helping to reduce breakage as well. Save the “out” styles for rare occasions.
2. Switch to heavier sealants
Heavier sealants (like whipped butters mixed with oils) can provide longer-lasting moisture retention in the wintertime. Hair tends to be drier during these months so light oils/products may not be as effective.
3. Be gentle on the edges when installing and wearing braid extensions
For many naturals, these cold months call for wearing braid extensions to protect the hair. However, keep in mind that your natural hair underneath still requires regular moisture and conditioning. Also, try to avoid tight braiding along the hairline that can result in broken, sparse edges. Beware of high-tension styles, such as taut high buns, that can cause damage damage as well. Lastly try not to wear the extensions for too long (no more than a couple of months, depending on your hair).
4. Watch those temples and nape when wearing wigs and head wraps
Wigs and head wraps also become pretty popular during this time of year. Be mindful, though, that overly frequent and long-term wearing of these styles can damage the hair along the temples and nape. If your wig comes with clips or combs attached to the front and back, you may want to remove them to avoid breakage in that region of your hair. (Use bobby pins instead.) Also, wearing a silk cap under your wig can protect against moisture loss. If you are wearing head wraps, particularly cotton ones, it may be helpful to cover your hair with a satin scarf before applying the wrap. Also, avoid wearing head wraps too tightly.
I notice that wearing a satin bonnet (or scarf) in addition to sleeping on a satin pillowcase helps my hair retain more moisture than a bonnet (or scarf) alone. That being said, once the cold season enters, I like to switch my cotton pillowcase to a satin pillowcase. Others may or may not find this tip useful as well.
6. Incorporate pre-poos and/or co-washes
Pre-poos (pre-shampoo treatments) and co-washes (conditioner washes) can help protect against moisture loss during the washing process … especially during the cold season. Pre-poos usually consist of oils, conditioners, or both and are left on the hair for several minutes or hours. Co-washes typically involve washing with a rinse-out conditioner. For tips on effective co-washing, read this earlier BGLH post.
Ladies, how do you prevent the cold season from damaging your hair?